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April 25, 2009

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Total Comments: 3 (view all)

To speakonlythetruth:

The regents clearly did not ask for a policy of this nature as the other higher educational institutions "carrying out orders" came up with very different, much less convoluted documents. From the news coverage, it sounds as though the regents asked only for a policy on hate crimes. Someone at UNLV, most likely Dr. Clark, must have decided to add the "bias incidents" element to the policy.

(Suggest removal) 5/4/09 at 7 p.m.

I am confident that Vice President Clark would like UNLV to be a place where everyone can learn and grow free of intimidation, a goal that I and most everyone at UNLV shares. I believe the bias policy would undermine this goal, and only a hate crimes policy should be adopted. Most speech codes are not called speech codes and many say explicitly that they are not speech codes. This "bias incidents" policy is a de facto speech code. It is puzzling that those writing the policy did not do research on how such policies have fared around the country. When challenged, these policies have been universally struck down by the courts. No significant benefits have been generated by these policies, and no justification has been presented for such a policy at UNLV. No one has even explained why the mechanisms that exist at UNLV are inadequate to deal with "bias incidents." Research on university speech codes, however, reveals many cases of mild speech or politically incorrect research being censured (see Kors and Silvergate 1999; Downs 2005). Authors on the right and left have lamented the way higher education has been politicized. This code would politicize the environment at UNLV and undermine the free exchange of ideas.

(Suggest removal) 5/4/09 at 12:30 p.m.

I strongly believe that UNLV should be a place of tolerance and civility where ideas flow freely, and people debate the important issues of the day. No one should be subject to intimidation. Unfortunately, I do not believe that the "bias policy" helps UNLV become such a place. Instead, I believe this policy would have a strong chilling effect on free speech, and students and faculty would simply shy away from addressing controversial subjects. Moreover, I believe that it would inhibit genuine communication between people of different groups as individuals would fear that they could unintentionally say something to offend another and suffer grave consequences for doing so. The language of this policy is very broad. The idea that the police would likely become involved in cases where someone misspoke or was misunderstood is extremely frightening and intimidating. President Ashley is quoted as having said that there has been a lot of faculty consultation, but I wonder if the feedback from the faculty has been taken into account. It seems that UNLV is going backwards. Speech codes at other universities throughout the country have either been struck down by the courts or are being eliminated by the members of the university community who initially put them into place. (Actually, I do not understand why the bias policy is needed. There seem to be several mechanisms in place to handle faculty and student misconduct, and discrimination on the basis of sex, race, etc. and hate crimes are illegal.)

(Suggest removal) 4/25/09 at 9:16 p.m.

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